Faces of Cebu Life!

FACES OF CEBU: Dr. Juvel Ducay, 29, Miss Bantayan Island

Juvel Ducay

Juvel Ducay, 29, in the swimsuit competition at Miss Universe Philippines – Cebu on February 3. | CDN Photo/ Dave Cuizon

CEBU CITY, Philippines – It was a sunny day in Bantayan Island in Cebu, and the rhythmic slapping of waves against the shore signaled only one thing for children: It was time to head to the beach and play in the fine white sand and crystal-clear waters.

With laughter in their hearts and sand between their toes, the children raced toward the shore. Among the playful throng, there was one who shone brighter than the rest. Her name was Juvel Ducay.

Juvel was not content with mere idle play. She possessed a spirit of leadership and adventure. While others built castles in the sand, she led her friends on imaginative journeys and daring escapades.

And it was no surprise that today, she is known as one of the pride of Bantayan Island.


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“I remember I prayed nga ‘Lord, I want to bring Bantayan Island to the national stage.’ …That was my goal. So I brought Bantayan Island with me, and I got the title,” Juvel said.

Ducay is nothing short of an ambitious and determined woman. From her childhood filled with sand and laughter to the woman she has become today, one can tell that she embodies resolve and is the epitome of a woman who knows what she wants.

She has brought home multiple crowns, from winning school titles to proudly representing Bantayan Island in the Miss Universe Philippines on May 22, 2024.

The 29-year-old not only radiates beauty but also wit and intelligence, as she recently passed the physician board exam. She is now a licensed professional doctor, not to mention that she graduated Cum Laude and was a Presidential scholar.

But beyond Juvel’s success and crowns, she was a dreamer.

Juvel Ducay, an ‘island baby’

At an early age, aside from enjoying playing in the sand, Juvel already had an interest in performing.

She liked dancing, singing, and modeling. For Juvel, nothing made her heart beat crazier than performing on the stage.

“Literally, I am an island baby… but I really loved the stage gyud. Sa child pa ko, I already enjoy musayaw, mukanta, at school even in kindergarten. I already led the class performing. I really loved the stage gyud,” Juvel said.

Juvel’s passion for performing on stage led her into the world of pageantry. In her first year of high school, she already outshone her seniors when she participated in the Miss Intramurals competition.

In her second year of high school, she once again emerged victorious, this time winning the coveted title of the entire school pageant.

Having achieved the highest honor in her second year, Juvel was unable to compete in other pageants within the school. Undeterred, she ventured beyond the confines of school competitions and participated in Miss Madridejos.

With her wit and beauty, it came as no surprise when she once again clinched the crown. Eager to further establish herself in the industry, she then entered the Miss Bantayan Island pageant and emerged victorious yet again.

First defeat

Upon graduating from high school, Juvel set sail for Cebu to pursue her college education. She enrolled at the University of San Carlos (USC) Talamban Campus with a degree in Pharmacy.

However, enrolling in a medical program never became a reason for Juvel to give up, even though it marked her first taste of defeat and failure.

In 2014, Juvel participated in Miss Mactan, but she did not win the crown.

“I was sad. Wala ko nadaog ato, because I was like, lahi diay ang pageant culture sa Bantayan from when I reached Cebu, na culture shock ko. Like very different, like ang candidates kay mura nag veteran na bitaw kaayo sila and ako newbie pa kaayo,” she said.

Juvel thought that her winning streak in Bantayan Island had provided enough experience and lessons for her to compete in bigger competitions.

However, she failed to realize that the dynamics could be different and that she was far more of a neophyte compared to her competitors.

Joining Miss Mandaue

She took it upon herself to study and review every competition, whether she won or lost, and applied what she learned to refine her strategy.

Ducay gathered every tool she needed, as she won two crowns after her initial defeat: the Miss Gaisano Grand 2015 and Binibining Compostela 2016.

Inspired by her victories, she once again summoned the courage to compete, this time joining Miss Mandaue in 2017.

She exhausted all that she had learned and performed on stage with unmatched vigor, but fate had different plans–she did not clinch the crown.

“Wala ko kadaog ato, na-sad gyud kaayo ko kay wala ko kadaog sa Miss Mandaue. So niana ko, murag dili naman ko kadaog aning Cebu usab, so mularga ko og Manila,” she said.

Representing Bantayan in the national stage

True to her words, Juvel ventured to Manila and participated in Miss Hannah’s World Tourism Philippines in 2018. And she got the title.

One of her goals in pageantry was to bring her hometown, Bantayan Island, onto the national stage. Since she already accomplished this goal, she made the decision to take a temporary hiatus from the pageant world and pursue another lifelong dream – to become a doctor.

In 2018, Juvel enrolled in Southwestern University (SWU) Medical School, where she was granted a scholarship.

“But you know, once you are deeply rooted na sa pageant world, you cannot really avoid it. I really thought dili na ko ka pageant, but wala, passion gyud nimo siya, so even pag first year in Med School, ako gihapon ilang gipadala for Miss SWU School of Medicine, which I won,” she said.

From Miss SWU School of Medicine, she then represented the school for the Miss APMC (Association of Philippine Medical Colleges), where she was first runner-up.

Self-sustaining medical student, beauty queen

The journey through medical school was challenging for Juvel, as she had to self-sustain herself all the way.

She had to generate income to cover miscellaneous expenses. Amid the hardships encountered in the medical field, she persevered in finding side hustles to support herself.

There was a particular moment Juvel recalled when she arrived home late from a gig and had an exam the following day. So she just scanned her notes like it was possible for her to memorize everything.

Despite shedding tears numerous times, she never allowed herself to falter, knowing she had no other option but to persist and carry on.

Her passion for performing on stage, like in pageants, transformed into a purpose-driven passion, where she could both enjoy herself and earn an income.

The last pageant she participated in was Binibining Cebu in 2019, where she made it to the top 12.

Following this, she shifted her focus entirely to school until she graduated from medical school in 2022 and passed the board exams in 2023.

The results were announced in October 2023. A month later, she received an unexpected call that reignited her passion for what she loved doing.

It was an invitation to join Miss Universe Philippines Cebu, where she won the title of Miss Universe Philippines Cebu Tourism 2024.

Never give up on your dreams

Currently, Ducay is preparing to represent Bantayan Island in the Miss Universe Philippines.

Like many others, Juvel’s story is worth sharing. She has inspired numerous young women to continue dreaming big despite life’s challenges and to persistently pursue their passions with grace and kindness.

She was strengthened by her failures and setbacks, where she learned to never to give up on them and to still keep trying.

As she once answered in a question and answer portion, Ducay says, “Never give up on your dreams. Giving up is never an option. If you want to take a break, if you want to focus on other things, if dream gyud na nimo it really find its way to you.”

TAGS: beauty pageant, Cebu, inspiration, people
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